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Plaza renovation adds place to gather in downtown Raleigh

Posted July 10, 2015

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— A major project is under way to bring big change to two relatively small public spaces in downtown Raleigh.

Market and Exchange plazas connect Fayetteville and South Wilmington streets, flanking an empty high-rise. The city is investing about $1 million to add built-in granite seating, improved lighting and updated planters, increasing the walkable space downtown.

Restaurant owner David Sadeghi said he welcomes the sound of construction outside his bistro, Bolt, because it signals that his environment is on the way to an improvement.

"It's very dark. It's used by a lot of people for not normal things to do, such as going out there throwing up, using it as a bathroom area, throwing garbage," Sadeghi said.

April Daye, who works downtown, said she avoids the plazas even when they are on her way. "They were a little seedy I guess, not very attractive," she said.

Urban designer Luke Wallenbeck's plan would replace dimly lit, overgrown eyesores with an attractive open space.

"We hope to gain two plaza spaces that are more open, more flexible and safer for people in downtown to use," he said.

Daye welcomes the change.

"This will give you a place to go, sit and eat your lunch or read a book," she said. "It looks like they'll be welcoming."

Sadeghi, too, said he is excited to see the change. At Bolt, they hope to capitalize on the improvements.

"It's good for downtown. Hopefully all businesses will benefit from it," he said.

City leaders envision the plazas will be used for small concerts or other small events. The work on both the plazas is expected to be complete this fall.


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